Dinner Menu: Stir Fry Orange Chicken and Broccoli

It’s snowing here – well, raining at the moment, but snow by the evening. Never mind my garden is planted with tomatoes, three kinds of peppers, tomatillos, and zucchini, all raised in the house nursery over the past few months. Sigh.

It’s Colorado and we are always prepared for snow, so I’ve got everything ready to be covered and protected as the weather turns. Just not how I expected to spend the latter part of my week.

Cold weather puts me in the mood for some spicy favorites. This is from 2017:


orange-chicken-dinner

I’m not big on deep frying anything, but I love orange chicken so I wanted to find a way to make it so it was still crisp without all the oil and breading. I found the perfect ingredient to produce that result: potato starch. I’ve been using it for a while now and it makes the most perfect Oven Baked Chicken – I’ve been substituting it for the bread crumbs, combining it with crushed rice chex – I’ll post an updated recipe on that technique this week.

I thought it might have the same effect on pan frying chicken pieces. It did. Crispy, light and flavorful. Of course top anything with enough orange sauce and I’m there.

On the board tonight:

  1. Pan-Fried Orange Chicken
  2. Rice or Rice Noodles
  3. Steamed Broccoli

Continue reading

Dinner Menu: Baked Gnocchi in Fire Roasted Tomato-Basil Sauce

This is an elegant dinner that looks like it took you all day to prepare.  From start to finish I cooked the asparagus and gnocchi in 1/2 hour.  The strawberry bread takes an hour to cook, but it’s a breeze to put together.  So if you feel the need for something special, but still easy, this one could be for you.

On the board tonight:

  1. Baked Ricotta Gnocchi
  2. Broiled Asparagus
  3. Loaf of good crusty bread
  4. Strawberry Bread

Years ago, Christmas Eve is spent eating good food at friends’ Mark and Larissa’s house. Mark’s mom is from Italy and Larissa’s mom is from Japan, and luckily for me, the subject always turns to food from both countries. This year we talked about ravioli, gnocchi and fish in salt domes. I have to confess I’m not a fan of gnocchi. Should be good, right? – potato goodness, covered in sauce. What’s not to love? It just isn’t a favorite of mine. Maybe because I’ve never had it fresh I am missing out. But after we discussed how to make it fresh, well, I don’t think I’d be making it anytime soon. Then I saw a recipe for Ricotta Gnocchi and it sounded good and best of all, easy.  So I’d thought I’d try it. This is what I came up with and it quickly became a favorite of my guests.

Baked Ricotta Gnocchi in Fire Roasted Tomato and Basil Sauce

Sauce:

  • 28 oz fire roasted crushed tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tsp crushed garlic
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
  • 1 tsp dried oregano (or 1 tbsp fresh chopped)

Add ingredients in saucepan, bring to a low boil, reduce to low and let simmer while preparing gnocchi. Continue reading

Chag Sameach!

May Passover be  joyous for you this year

Several friends and I were discussing their Seder meals for this holiday. Well beyond the traditional lamb, but filled with all the blessings. It’s been many years since I’ve sat down for a Seder meal, but I have fond memories of a meal steeped in deep traditions and friendship.

Here’s a wonderful cooking thread cooking traditional meals in new ways, including tonight’s Seder:

It’s worth a read and I think I’ll be checking out that cookbook.

 

 

 

Welcome Spring!

I spent yesterday cleaning up the yard in anticipation of Spring Equinox. Taking stock of what survived the winter and what will need to be replaced. While there is no sign of an Iris or Pussy Willow after this harsh winter, I was happy to see it looks like only one bunch of daisies will need to be replaced.

I think we’ll have to wait a few more weeks before bulbs start to pop. But a few warm days and I think the Pussy Willows with “poof!” Can’t wait.

I do have a nice corned beef recipe to post later…in case you stashed away an extra or want to bookmark it for next year. I took it up a notch and glazed it while the veggies were steaming.

Until then…

Dinner Menu: Buffalo Chicken Bites and Garlic Mashed Potatoes

For the Super Bowl this year, we kept it simple: pizza, super nachos and ice cream. I toyed with making wings, but in the end, it seemed like too much work after a very long week.

But I found myself craving Buffalo chicken all week, so finally I cubed up a large chicken breast and made this super simple, yet flavorful dinner.

I served over shredded lettuce with ranch dressing, along with Instant Pot Garlic Mashed Potatoes, and of course, carrot and celery sticks.

Skillet Buffalo Chicken Bites

  • 1 lb boneless chicken breast, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • extra light olive oil
  • 1 cup potato starch
  • 1/4 tsp of each:
    • salt & pepper
    • garlic powder
    • cayenne pepper
    • adobo seasoning
  • buffalo wing sauce
  • bleu cheese or ranch dressing

skillet Continue reading

French Butter Cookies

I recently had to get a Costco membership – long, boring story – but it’s already paying off.  When I came home from Paris four years ago, my suitcase contained 10 packages of St. Michel Butter Cookies (Galettes). I was besotted.  Super buttery, flakey, not terribly sweet with just a touch of salt. Costco sells them by the very large tin.

I’ve been trying to recreate them ever since, but it’s difficult from memory. Now I have a tin of them, I stand a better chance. These come very, very close. Continue reading

Dinner Menu: Cajun Catfish and Buttered Potato Pie

Continuing my Southern-themed menus this month, leading up to Mardi Gras:

I get gifts and often times it’s spices, so I have a couple of really good Cajun spice mixes to choose from for the fish. The potatoes are so easy, especially if you have a mandolin, it takes about 10 minutes to make this recipe from start to finish. Lots of butter and I added crushed roasted garlic and brushed a little olive oil on the top layer.  I always forget how good they are and wonder why I don’t make them more often.

Blood oranges are in season if you want to substitute for the pears.

On the board tonight:

  1. Pan-fried Catfish
  2. Broccoli
  3. Buttered Potato Pie
  4. Sliced Pears

Pan-fried Catfish*

  • 4 catfish fillets – approx. 6 oz each
  • olive oil
  • 1 tsp to 1 tbsp Cajun spice (according to your taste preferences)

large skillet

Brush catfish with oil and season with Cajun spice.  Lightly oil pan, using high heat fry 3-4 minutes on each side.

*if you don’t think you’ll like catfish, you can substitute salmon, whitefish, trout, or even boneless chicken breasts (requires longer cooking time).

If you can’t find a commercial Cajun spice mixture, you can mix together equal parts of the following and store in an airtight container:  paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, lemon zest, black pepper, red pepper, allspice, thyme, ground cloves, mace, cayenne, and crushed bay leaf.

Buttered Potato Pie

  • 4-6 medium potatoes
  • 4 tbsp butter, melted
  • ½ onion, sliced in thin rings
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 2 tbsp minced parsley

large skillet

Peel & slice potatoes thinly.  Heat 2 tbsp of butter in skillet.  Arrange onions on the bottom of the skillet, then layer potatoes slices overlapping in a ring on the bottom of the pan.  As you make each layer, drizzle the remaining butter over the top and season with salt & pepper.  Invert heat-proof plate, or I use a metal pie pan, over the potatoes, weigh down with heavy heat-proof object (like a can of water).  Sauté over medium heat until potatoes are molded and golden brown.  Remove the plate. Transfer the potatoes to the 400-degree  F oven and cook until caramelized and cooked through, about 30 minutes, pressing the potatoes occasionally to compress and shaking the pan to keep the potatoes from sticking to the bottom. Cut into four wedges and serve with parsley garnish.

Shopping List

  • 4 Pears (or one large can sliced pears)
  • 1 head broccoli
  • 4 catfish fillets
  • 4-6 medium potatoes
  • ½ onion
  • Parsley
  • 1 stick butter

Also: olive oil, Cajun spice, salt, pepper

Full Dinner Menu: Pasta Jambalaya and Orange Cookies

Pasta Jambalaya_Snapseed2

As winter drags on and we get closer to Fat Tuesday (March 1st this year) my meals tend to take on a Southern feel…Washday Beans and Rice, Chicken and Biscuits, Pulled Pork Sandwiches. I’ll revisit all those recipes in the coming weeks. See if I can adapt any to the Instant Pot.

Speaking of the Instant Pot – I gave my 6 qt to a friend who lost everything in the Marshall fire and bought myself a new 8 qt pot – more soup! More dog food! Hey, an entire chicken can roast in there!

Pasta Jambalaya is such an easy and fun one-pot dinner. My goal with the dinner menus is to have a quick meal planned that doesn’t taste quick and uses fresh foods, versus over-processed frozen or microwave dinners. I think this one really meets that test. It’s full of great flavors and fresh vegetables. And the Orange cookies are a simple dessert, but you can always substitute fresh oranges for a healthier alternative.

On the board:

  1. Pasta Jambalaya
  2. Salad
  3. Orange Cookies

Pasta Jambalaya

  • 12 oz penne pasta
  • ½ tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 stalk celery, diced
  • 1 cup sliced carrots (I use frozen)
  • 1 tsp crushed garlic
  • 1 tsp to 1 tbsp Cajun or Creole seasoning
  • 15 oz can black beans
  • 14 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 4 oz can chopped green chilies
  • 4 oz smoked sausage, sliced (I like Andouille)
  • 4 oz shredded Mexican 4-blend cheese

saucepan Continue reading